Hood’s Obsession by Marie Hall

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Hood’s Obsession (Kingdom, #9) by Marie Hall

Publication Date: July 19, 2014

Genre: Fantasy Romance

BLURBHoodsObsession

Erualis’ time is running out and now Rumpelstiltskin says there are only two who can save him…

Lilith Wolf, the daughter of the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood has a problem, she’s an unmated female in heat. She has to get away from the males of her village unless she wants to find herself involuntarily hand fasted to the first one to tame her wolf. So when Giles Damien comes to her calling due the pact she’d signed with Rumpelstiltskin years ago, she doesn’t really think twice about the fact that she’ll be journeying to Fyre Mountain, even though that means she’ll be crossing paths with an angry water dragon, a pub full of rowdy Merry Men, and rock dwarves with a taste for flesh… For an alpha female that’s an adventure. No problem. Find the Chalice of Hope, come back home, and life will return back to normal again.

But she hadn’t counted on an honorable Giles Damien to intrigue not only her female sensibilities, but her wolf too. He’s a warrior, but he’s sweet, he’s patient, and he’s altogether different from the aggressive, rough males of her village. Problem is Giles is a demone, and everyone knows they don’t mingle outside of their species. But now her sights are set on him and she’s going to make it her mission to prove to the stubborn headed demone that sometimes love can come from the most unexpected of circumstances…

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22396251-hood-s-obsession?from_search=true

PURCHASE LINKS:

http://www.amazon.com/Hoods-Obsession-Kingdom-Book-9-ebook/dp/B00LWWWB66/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405898797&sr=8-1&keywords=hood%27s+obsession

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hoods-obsession-marie-hall/1119967117?ean=2940149739691

Excerpt:

Lilith Wolf ran like her life depended on it.

Mainly because it did.

They were closing in fast.

Two from the left side, three from the right, and they were catching up. They were men, but covered in fur, and they were coming in hard.

“Keep running, girl,” the leader growled. “We love it when they run.”

His voice was a bassy rumble, a mix between man and beast. Heart in her throat, she called to her animal, the wolf that lived and breathed inside of her. It pulsed, hungry and violent. Ready to defend her.

The men laughed. Great wolf, they were gaining. They were so close. Way too close. She could practically feel their breath on her neck.

Her skin shivered, throbbed with the energy of the shift and then…the wolf exploded out. She shed her skin, becoming nothing but muscle and fur, and the woods were alive.

The wolf was wild, free, unhindered by things like emotion. Fear, anger, pain…none of it mattered except the need to run.

Her muscles bunched and gathered and her giant paws practically tore up the ground beneath her as she swerved around giant weeping willows whose branches soared into the heavens.

The sun was setting; soon the moon would be the only light in the sky. If she could just reach home, then she’d be safe.

She had never expected when she’d planned her trip to her girlfriend’s house that tonight, of all nights, her body would suddenly explode into heat. She was two weeks off from the date she and her family had expected.

Which wasn’t terribly shocking, it happened, but for it to happen now…on her way home, all alone in the hollers of the shifters’ den. This was bad.

Very, very bad.

Panting, she urged her body to move faster, almost blinded by the pounding adrenaline rolling through her. Her vision had narrowed down to a pinprick of light; all she could see was one paw going in front of the other. One tree flashing by on the left and then the right.

Her keen hearing though could sense the pending footfalls of alphas on the hunt.

For her.

Her hackles rose at the thought. As long as she could stay just a couple hundred steps ahead, she’d be out of range of their call.

But her muscles were quivering and the adrenaline was starting to turn to shock.

And then, like an answer to a prayer, she saw the top of her family’s chimney just ahead, and the sight of it lifted her flagging spirits, giving her muscles an extra jolt of speed. She was so close. So unbelievably close, and just as she was about to release a yip of relief she felt the heated waft of breath brush the side of her sensitized ear.

And then a giant body plowed into her middle, knocking her senseless and tossing her to the ground. Snarling, she jumped to her feet, snapped her jaws at the red-haired leader who’d still not fully shifted, and darted away.

“Run, but I’ll get you,” he called out with his hands cupped around his mouth. “I’ll always get you, Lilith! You will be mine.”

Then he howled, and if she’d not been half-human and capable of reasoning, if her human side didn’t hate St. John the way she did, she’d have turned back around. She’d have gone to him, because he’d thrown out the mating call and her wolf wanted it.

But even as her human side knew to keep going, her wolf whimpered inside her. Because the wolf was in heat and that was basic and elemental, St. John was a strong alpha male and that was the only distinction her wolf needed.

Then another howl, and another. Three more, all joining in chorus, and she whimpered, her claws gouged into the earth as she stopped, pulled up short by the instinctual need to go to him. To crawl to that vile, repulsive male.

She whined as the call grew louder.

No. No. She screamed it at her wolf. Don’t go. This is a trap.

But the drive was just too strong.

Brain and body at complete odds, she turned and whimpered her way back to the circle of men. They stood, holding hands, the alpha drawing his strength from his pack. His brown eyes glimmering with the threat of violence and sex.

Violent sex. The claiming of a wolf. They’d all wanted her, daughter of the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood—she was a conquest, sport. A notch on their belt, that was it. They wanted to take what was hers and turn it foul, tarnish it, ruin her for another.

At least her family would be expecting her return anytime now. They’d come looking for her. Her brothers would kill St. John if they ever discovered how he’d used pack magic against her. She crawled on her paws and belly, screaming at the wolf to stop.

“That’s right, you beauty,” St. John cooed. “Come to your master.”

She snarled and he laughed.

“You cannot deny me, Lilith, I am an alpha.” And the moment he said the name, the collective power of the pack slammed into her like a rolling tide and she knew this nightmare was real.

She would be raped, tainted, all because he could.

It wasn’t that St. John wasn’t good looking; up until last year he’d been a mate. A friend. She’d considered him as an option briefly, but he had a temper, and when shifters mated, it was for life. She was picky. So she’d slowly begun pulling away from him, giving him every hint she could that she was not interested. Making a point to sit as far away from him during gatherings as possible, giving only monosyllabic answers to any questions he’d ask, never making eye contact. All subtle hints that she was not interested.

And even so, three months ago he’d asked for her hand.

He should never have done that. Should never have demanded she tell him the truth. Because the moment she’d denied him, she’d sensed his immediate shift from cordial friendship to dangerous obsession. Wolves hated to be denied, but most especially alphas.

She watched in horror as his fingers slowly undid one button of his shirt at a time. Not only was he going to rape her, but he was going to do it to her while in his half-turned form.

Doing that while she was fully wolf would show not only dominance, but disdain. That he could overpower her even as a man.

She whinnied when the stench of his arousal brushed her sensitive nose. He reeked of male musk, a horrible, fishy stench. Now her wolf finally seemed to understand what was going on, because she snorted the scent. Offended by its repulsive odor.

Finally her wolf did not recognize this alpha as its mate. If she had the scent would have been clean, crisp, intoxicating. But now it was too late; she was locked under the power of the alpha’s call.

He dropped the shirt to the ground. St. John was covered in a furry carpet of red all along his arms and torso. She shook her head even as her paws dragged her into the center of the circle.

“Cover her eyes, boys,” St. John laughed.

Then she was set upon, but still under her thrall she couldn’t move. Could only scream in her head as hands tied a velvet mask around her eyes.

Shivering, trembling, she whimpered and awaited her fate.

Cries and howls suddenly exploded around her and the power locking her limbs in place was gone. But these cries weren’t ones of jubilation and conquest, but raw, visceral fear and pain.

Terrified, she jumped to her feet, shaking her head from side to side to release the mask. Had her brothers found her trail?

But if they had, why wasn’t she scenting them? She smelled smoke and brimstone. Not altogether displeasing, but not the fresh earthiness of her clan. What was going on?

Growling, she rubbed her head against tree bark to peel the damnable mask off. She debated whether to shift back to human form but quickly dismissed the idea. Stronger as the wolf, she knew she had no choice but to remain as she was.

There were grunts and hard exhalations of breath, a body being slammed. Then another. More howls. And then finally silence.

Standing stock still she listened to the rustle of dry leaves dance on the grassy meadow. To the chatter of squeaking mice. The hoot of an owl. The breeze smelled of apples and flowers and something dark…something dangerous.

Only one heartbeat besides her own remained in these woods. The mask was only half off; all she could see were her paws and the ground. Pulse racing she stood on edge waiting for the…whatever…to come at her. She could hear its breathing; it hadn’t gone anywhere.

The longer she waited, the louder her instinct became that this predator meant her no actual harm.

Realizing she needed more information than what her nose could give her, Lilith put her wolf to sleep by calling her shifting fire with no small amount of trepidation and shifted into her human form quicker than she’d ever done before. Yanking the bloody mask off her face the moment she was able.

An ebony-skinned man with hair like shadow and gleaming red eyes stared back at her. Dressed in dark jeans and shirt, he’d have almost blended into the darkness around them if it weren’t for the strange, luminescent sheen that rippled just beneath his skin. Like coals that’d been banked but still burned with a light glow of fire.

In his hand was a sword stained with blood. There were no wolves around, no dead bodies… It was just her and him.

“Lilith Wolf,” he said in a seductively smooth drawl, “come with me.”

AUTHOR BIO:

Marie Hall is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author who loves books that make you think, or feel something. Preferably both. And while she’s a total girly girl and loves glitter and rainbows, she’s just as happy when she’s writing about the dark underbelly of society. Well, if things like zombies, and vampires, and werewolves, and mermaids existed. (Although she has it on good authority that mermaids do in fact exist, because the internet told her so.)

She’s married to the love of her life, a sexy beast of a caveman who likes to refer to himself as Big Hunk. She has two awesome kids, lives in Hawaii, loves cooking and occasionally has been known to crochet. She also really loves talking about herself in the third person.

If you want to see what new creations she’s got up her sleeves check out her blog.

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Excerpt for More Than Pancakes

More Than Pancakes Button 500 x 375

 

Book Blurb:

Contemporary Romance

80,000 words Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00062]

Lily Hinsdale spends her California days designing extravagant hotels for Utopia Resorts. Her nights are filled with the glitz and glamour of upscale parties. Until her grandmother dies and leaves Lily property in wretched Vermont. The woods mean only one thing to Lily—nightmares. When Utopia wants the land for development, Lily is forced to travel to a place she’d rather forget.

Rick Stannard makes maple syrup and builds barns in the peace and quiet of picturesque Vermont. Noisy New York City nearly killed him a few years back, and now he lives a calm, simple life with his coyote, Poe, and his beloved book collection. It’s the only way he’s guaranteed to wake up each morning.

When Lily marches her expensive boots onto Rick’s land and proposes turning it into a mega resort, the serenity of the woods is shattered. Lily always closes a deal. Rick never intends to sell. They’ll need to compromise, or someone else will do it for them. Someone who is not afraid of the woods or the city.

Or spilling a little blood.

Buy Links:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Pancakes-Maple-Leaf-ebook/dp/B00KLOWX4G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1401629738&sr=1-1&keywords=more+than+pancakes

NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/more-than-pancakes-christine-depetrillo/1119618502?ean=9781498947824&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-je6NUbpObpQ-_-10:1&r=1

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/More-Than-Pancakes/cjEDwOJk402FGrJgM_GA1w?MixID=cjEDwOJk402FGrJgM_GA1w&PageNumber=1

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id883017533?mt=1

Print: http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Pancakes-Maple-Series/dp/1499708912/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1402250112&sr=8-1

First Chapter:

“Leave it, Poe. Quit fooling around.”

Rick Stannard wrestled his glove away from his coyote. She was forever burying, slobbering all over, or chewing holes in his good work gloves. Ever since he’d rescued the abandoned, starving pup from the woods at the edge of his property, he’d been living with the eccentricities of having an animal meant for the wild living in his cabin. He’d trained her. Knew she wouldn’t attack him while he slept, but now and then, her feral nature would flare up. Poe considered it playing, and most of the time so did Rick, but today he had to insert the taps on his maple trees and inspect the lines. The sap was about to run and that meant the Stannard Mountain Pure Vermont Maple Syrup Company—Rick’s company—was all systems green.

“C’mon, you beast. We don’t have all morning to waste. We’ve got work to do.” Rick gave a final tug that freed his glove from Poe’s jaws. He stumbled back, landing on his backside on the hickory floor of his small kitchen. “Brat.” He swiped Poe’s muzzle with his glove.

The coyote licked his hand and happily trotted beside Rick as he went into the garage to load his sled with the necessary tools. Clothed in his snow pants, thermal shirt, fleece jacket, knit hat, boots, and snowshoes, Rick was ready for a day out on his three-hundred acre property in the woods of Danton, Vermont. He’d upgraded his equipment, all gravity-fed lines, about three years back. The only assistance he accepted was from his aunt, Joy Stannard, and his cousins, Hope and Sage, who ran the bakery and book swap storefront of the business during the late winter and early spring months. Customers needed a cozy, friendly little shop from which to purchase their maple products. Rick didn’t do cozy or friendly, but Aunt Joy and his cousins excelled in both areas.

Leaving the sled outside, he pushed open the door to the storefront and let Poe scurry in first.

“Morning, Rick! I was thinking if we arranged the tables this way, it would allow for more interaction between customers, and if the customers interact more, this place could become the social center of Danton. It would mean more sales, more book swapping, more action. Sometimes this place can be such a tomb, but with the tables like this, maybe some hot, interesting guys will come in and whisk me away to—”

Rick held up two hands to stop Hope from continuing her verbal assault. Too much. Too early.

“Sorry.” Hope pushed in a chair at one of the tables she’d moved. “I forgot you aren’t a morning person.”

“Isn’t much of an afternoon or evening person either,” Sage, Hope’s sister, called from behind the pastry case where she had been vacuuming the shelves.

Rick shot her a glare to which she responded with a snarl that ended in a grin.

“What brings you amongst the people, Grouch?” Sage gathered her long, blond hair into a ponytail then leaned against the pastry case.

Rick pointed down to his winter attire. “What does it look like I’m going to do?”

“Sumo wrestle with Bigfoot?” Hope offered, making Sage chuckle.

“If you weren’t so busy turning this place into a dating club, you’d know what’s going on.” Rick pulled his glove off to scratch Poe between the ears as the coyote pushed her muzzle into his knee.

“I’m not turning it into a dating club, Rick.” Hope gestured to the tables arranged in a tight little formation that made him a little claustrophobic. “It looks better this way, doesn’t it?”

“It looked fine the old way.” Rick shrugged.

“How is it that you’re only six years older than me but seem as if you’re eighty-six years older?” Sage asked. “Change is good, old man.”

He knew Sage was only busting his chops, but it stung a little today. He didn’t know why, which made him feel exactly like an old man.

“I don’t care what you do with the tables, Hope, as long as there are tables and they’re clean.” Rick headed for the door. “Where’s Aunt Joy?” And why do I want her around? Because Hope and Sage are picking on me? Foolish.

“She went into town to buy some fabric. Don’t freak out, Rick.” Hope grabbed his biceps and opened her brown eyes real wide as she stood on tiptoes in a useless attempt to look him in the eye. “She wants to make new curtains for these windows. Now I realize she didn’t clear it with you first, O Master of Keeping the Status Quo, but I don’t think a curtain change will destroy the world as we know it.”

Rick growled at Hope, and she laughed along with Sage. Even Poe let out a few short barks that sounded like chuckling.

“Whose side are you on, mutt?” He nudged Poe with his knee, and the coyote let out a whimper of apology.

“You headed out now?” Sage asked.

“Yep.”

“Take this.” Sage placed a thermos on top of the pastry case and slid it toward him. “Minestrone like no other, Cuz.”

For all her poking fun, Sage took care of him just as Aunt Joy and Hope did. They were his family, all he had. All he needed.

“Thanks.” He took the thermos and held it out of Poe’s reach as the coyote tried to climb up his leg for it. “Down. No meat in this one.” He tapped her on the nose, and Poe sank to all fours. Even if the soup did have meat in it, he wasn’t sharing. Everything Sage made tasted like heaven. That was what made her a fantastic caterer when it wasn’t sugaring season. She was busy cooking all times of the year. And her cookies? Off the charts tasty.

“I’ve got some website updates I’ve been working on.” Hope gestured to her laptop on one of the tables she’d moved. She handled all their online sales, promotional materials, and website. She was awesome at it too, which was good because Rick didn’t want to handle that stuff. Lots of people didn’t want to handle that stuff, so Hope was busy with that work in the off season.

“Okay,” Rick said. “Make them happen. I’m sure it’s all good.”

Hope patted his cheek. “I love that I have you trained to believe I’m always right.”

“Except when you move my tables.”

Hope stuck her tongue out at him then said, “Don’t get lost out there.”

“Have I ever?” Rick zipped the front of his fleece coat.

“No,” Sage said, “but we can dream.” She smiled sweetly and turned on the vacuum again.

He could still hear his cousins’ laughter as he left the store with Poe on his heels. He put on his hat and picked up the cable attached to his sled. A day out in the tranquility of the woods stretched before him, and he couldn’t think of a more perfect way to spend his time. The morning sky was clear, and a fresh snow had fallen last night making his property seem like uncharted territory, free from any indications of civilization.

On a whistle, Rick and Poe headed out. His snowshoes cut a trail across the blank white page of his land, and he fell into the easy rhythm of his work. He moved at a steady pace, covering more ground than he’d expected. The terrain was a bit hilly in this section of the sugar bush, but he pushed onward. He chewed up some of his time watching a moose and her calf at the edge of the still frozen Cassie’s Pond. The cow’s ears constantly twitched as she listened for signs of danger. The baby huddled beside her, its thick brown coat lightly dusted with snow.

When a hawk cried overhead, the cow nudged her baby and the two wandered deeper into the woods. Woods that weren’t a part of Rick’s property, but were tapped by him. When he’d first started his syrup business on his land, he’d cut a deal with his neighbor to lease and tap her trees. She received a specified amount of money per tap for the intrusion, which she didn’t seem to mind, and Rick always supplied her with free syrup every year. She was a great neighbor. Not around much and as respectful of his privacy as he was of hers. A marvelous business arrangement if such a concept existed. Someday Rick hoped to own her land when she was ready to sell it and double his empire without having to go all big city and corporate.

He continued inserting spiles until the sun faded and hunger knocked on the walls of his stomach. He’d install the taps on his neighbor’s trees tomorrow and spend tonight going through three boxes of donated books back at his cabin for the book swap. The bonus was he got first dibs on anything of interest in the donations, and he’d made some good finds in the past. An early edition Kafka. A leather-bound collection of Shakespeare plays. An autographed Jane Austen. Those finds were now displayed on the floor to ceiling bookcases that lined three of Rick’s living room walls.

Anticipating the buzz he always got when surrounded by books, he pulled his sled around to head home, but as he turned he dropped the rope attached to the sled. He was on enough of a hill that the sled immediately slid away from him. Not wanting to have to chase the sled and his tools all the way to the bottom, Rick ran after it in his snowshoes.

No easy feat.

He started off all right until the tip of his left snowshoe got caught under a fallen branch hidden below the snow. His ankle made an unnatural grinding sound as his foot stayed wedged in one direction and his body fell the opposite way. He let out a howl of pain that had Poe darting over to sniff his face.

“Back, Poe.” Rick pushed the coyote out of his space, but she circled around him, sniffing and whimpering.

The hurt in his ankle was a slow burning that got hotter as he tried to release his boot from the snowshoe. Every movement sent ripples of fire up his entire left leg. After too many minutes of struggling, he finally managed to unfasten the straps. His foot spilled off the snowshoe and when it landed in the snow, he hurled a shout into the arm of his fleece jacket. The muffled agony further agitated Poe who began howling. A few dogs replied, and Rick suddenly felt very Stephen King.

Not a great feeling.

Knowing it would be dark soon, he tried to stand. That went okay until he put his weight on his left foot and crumpled right back down to the ground.

Dammit. I don’t need this now.

He grumbled under his breath as Poe ran a little ahead of their position and then galloped back to him. When she came close enough to sniff him again, he grabbed her. Pointing her toward the sled resting at the bottom of the hill, he said, “Go get it. Get it, Poe.”

Poe barked once and shot down the hill toward the sled. She dug in the snow a bit and touched her nose to the ground. When she raised her head, the rope was in her teeth. She bounded back up the hill with the sled gliding along behind her, and Rick cursed over his stupidity.

What good is having a coyote if I don’t know how to use her?

Poe continued past him with the sled until it rested on level land. The coyote stood by the sled and barked at him as if to say, “C’mon. Let’s go.”

“Would love to, Poe.” As much as he didn’t want to, Rick untied his boot and slid it off with a few grunts of pain. He removed his thermal sock and glanced at the instant swelling in his ankle. That was the last thing he saw.

When he opened his eyes again, the snow-covered canopy of trees had been replaced by the tongue-and-groove pine ceiling of his living room. He was still in the jeans he’d worn during the day and his thermal shirt, but a flannel blanket had been thrown over him. Good thing too, because he was freezing.

And maybe a little dizzy. Definitely tired as all hell.

“You awake, sugar?” Aunt Joy came in from the kitchen.

He attempted to sit up, but found he didn’t have the strength.

“Easy, Rick. Take it slow.” Aunt Joy stood over him with a smile on her face he knew was forced.

“How’d I get back here?”

“When nine o’clock rolled around and we didn’t see this face,” she bent to pat his cheek, “we knew something not good had happened.”

Aunt Joy helped him wiggle up to a sitting position on the couch, and a plastic air cast spanning up to his calf stared back at him from the armrest on the other end. Rick let out a groan and flopped his head onto the back of the couch.

“Yeah, it’s severely sprained. Doctor Reslin made a special house call so we didn’t have to take you to the h-o-s-p-i-t-a-l.” Aunt Joy whispered the letters, and despite his situation, Rick appreciated the woman’s tenderness. She knew better than anybody how much he hated hospitals.

“The police found you in the snow, one shoe on, one shoe off, and out cold in more ways than one.” Aunt Joy sat on the edge of the old chest Rick used as a coffee table and rested her chin in her hands. “Gave an old lady a good scare, sugar. I don’t like when you do that.”

He pulled his gaze from the cast and looked at Aunt Joy’s face. Her brown eyes were watery, her nose a little red. He reached his hand over and tugged one of hers out from beneath her chin. Giving it a squeeze, he said, “I’m sorry, Aunt Joy. I tripped. It was stupid.”

“It was an accident. Could happen to anyone.” She placed her other hand atop his. “Just glad you’re okay. You’re a miserable hermit most of the time, but I kind of love you, you know?”

“I love you too.”

“Of course you do. Nobody takes better care of you than me.” Aunt Joy patted his cheek again and stood. “Okay, here’s the scoop. Cast for a few weeks. Stay off the ankle for the rest of this week and keep it elevated, then Doc left you a cane so you can hobble around.”

Rick opened his mouth to protest, but Aunt Joy waved him off. “I know. I know. ‘Aunt Joy, how am I supposed to stay off my feet when there’s so much to do?’ Listen, kid, this is the way the cards got dealt this hand. Roll with it.”

She made it sound like no big deal. No big deal that he was reduced to the functioning level of an infant during a key time for his syrup business.

“It doesn’t hurt that much,” Rick said.

“That’s because you’ve got these in you.” Aunt Joy reached to an end table by the couch and shook an orange bottle of prescription pills. “Wonder drugs. Once they wear off, you’ll be writhing in pain.” She leaned in close to his ear. “Here’s a tip, sugar. Don’t let them wear off.”

****

Author Bio: ???????????????????????????????

Christine DePetrillo tried not being a writer. She attempted to ignore the voices in her head, but they would not stop. The only way she could achieve peace and quiet was to write the stories the voices demanded. Today, she writes tales meant to make you laugh, maybe make you sweat, and definitely make you believe in the power of love.

She lives in Rhode Island and occasionally Vermont with her husband, two cats, and a big, black German Shepherd who guards her fiercely against all evils.

Find Christine’s other titles at www.christinedepetrillo.weebly.com.  Connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/christinedepetrilloauthor, on Twitter at @cdepetrillo, and at The Roses of Prose group blog on the 4th and 14th of every month at www.rosesofprose.blogspot.com.

 

Interview with Author D.E.L. Connor

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The Scarring (Spirit Warriors #2)

by D.E.L. Connor

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Booktrope

Published: July 21, 2014

Length: 244 pages

Spirit Warriors The Scarring

Blurb:

“One of us would finally end what had been started by the machayiwiw so many years ago. I would have to kill him. It was just that simple. I never thought I would want to kill anybody or anything, but maybe I never had anything worth killing for before.”

-Emmeline Rima Belrose, The Scarring (Spirit Warriors, Book 2)
In the majestic beauty of a Montana summer, Emme and her friends celebrate her near-drowning survival and their defeat of the powerful evil spirit, the machayiwiw. But even as they rejoice, things are amiss. Emme watches helplessly as her family divides, and her friends struggle to hold their relationship together. Worse yet, the love-of-her life, Charlie, announces that he will move back to the reservation, without Emme. Different nightmares take over and Emme realizes she must fight and kill—or watch those she loves be killed. Friends from the reservation reach out to Emme and show her what evil can steal from her. Emme believes that evil can never break her bond with the Spirit Warriors or the love she shares with Charlie. Or can it?
Although this is the second book in the Spirit Warriors series, it can be read as a stand alone novel.
Excerpt:

Ron looked over at me. I stared back at him. “Do you understand what I have told you, child?” Ron asked me.

I nodded. “Charlie is a spirit mover.”

Ron nodded. “Among other things.”

Ron went on, “Charlie is having more and more speaking times with the warriors. There is a sense of urgency now that Charlie learns how to shift spirit warriors into human bodies. He has been practicing with Ryan and Hawke. He is making some progress, but it is taking a long time. Charlie is weakening with the increasing talking times. He does not know when they will come and he has been injured many times. Our people now make sure he is never alone. We cannot risk his injuring himself, or the machayiwiw finding him undefended. He has much to learn. You have much to learn. You must learn hand-to-hand combat. Hawke is our best warrior, both with a knife and a spear. He can cut the wings off a fly in flight with his knife. He will be training you.” Ron looked at me.

“NO, I don’t think so.” I told Ron. “First, Hawke doesn’t like me and I can’t see him training me. Second, I’m not sure I could kill someone, even if it was the machayiwiw. In anger, I think I can, but I’m not sure.”

Ron looked at me. “What if that person was trying to kill Charlie, or your friends, or Eros your bird?”

I shook my head. “I just don’t think I can do this.”

Ron lowered his gaze. “If you don’t, you will die, along with Charlie, your friends, your animals, and your family. I will die, as will our people. He will finally destroy the one person who stands against him. The one person who has the power to destroy him. There will never be another you. Our people have waited many, many years for you. Golden Flower has waited many years for you.”

“I don’t want the responsibility!” I yelled at Ron as I stood up. “I might fail!” I jumped up and ran down the side of the creek. I ran as fast as I could and the sharp prairie grass cut my legs. I didn’t feel it. I felt angry and sad at the same time. “Why me? Why not someone else?” I thought to myself. I rounded a bend of the river and I ran right into Hawke. The force of our collision knocked us both to the ground. I lay on the ground with the wind knocked out of me. Hawke stood up and looked down at me.

I stood up and brushed off my shirt. Hawke stared at me. I looked at him and asked, “Why do you hate me?”

Hawke glared at me. “Charlie is my cousin and my best friend. You have brought him nothing but heartache and loss. I suspect you will do something stupid and Charlie will be killed because of you. I really don’t care anything about you and I’m sure as hell not sold on your ‘savior’ complex. I think you are full of shit and if something happens to Charlie, I will hunt you down and kill you myself.”

I was horrified. “I didn’t want this! I just want to be with Charlie. No matter what you think, I love him. I have always loved him and I will never stop loving him.” Hawke stands with his arms crossed. “We’ll see about that.” Hawke brushed past me and walked back up the creek towards Ron and Charlie.

I walked back to the jeep. I climbed in the back with Charlie and it was quiet as Ron drove us back to the cluster of buildings. When we pulled up, Irene came running up to the jeep. “Come on, Emme, we are getting ready to eat.” Irene grabbed my hand and pulled me in the building. Ollie and Jack were with Ryan. Jack motioned us over. Charlie brought me a plate of food. Irene squeezed her small body between Charlie and me. Charlie looked down at her. “Hey, Squirt, why don’t you sit on the other side of Emme?”

Irene looked at me. “Are you in love with Charlie?”

I glanced at her small face as she slid her arm through my arm. “Yes,” I whispered to her. Irene wrinkled up her face.

“YUCK! Boys are messy and yucky and stinky! Even Charlie.” We all laughed as Charlie grabbed her and rolled her on the ground and tickled her until Irene begged for mercy.

After lunch, Charlie and I walked hand in hand down to the creek. We sat on the bank and stared at the water. I leaned over and put my head on Charlie’s shoulder. Charlie wrapped his arm around me and pulled me close to him. We sat there quietly. I looked across the creek and saw Hawke staring at us. He had his arms folded across his chest. I looked at Charlie. “Can’t we even be alone? Does he have to watch us?”

Charlie nodded. “He is just protecting me.”

“From me?” I say sarcastically. Charlie shook his head. “No, not from you.”

Hawke stared at me. I stood up and stared back at him. He reached in his waistband and pulled out his knife. I stared him down as he prepared to throw his knife in my direction. I was not scared of him. Something deep inside of me assured me that he would not kill me with his knife. I stood perfectly still as he pulled back his arm. In slow motion I saw the knife hurling through the air, handle over blade as Charlie screamed my name. I felt the knife come right by my head and I felt a sharp pain by my ear and the drip of blood on my neck. My face never changed as I stared back at Hawke. My friend, that red hot feeling that meant I could be something stronger than I was, overcame me and I felt myself soaring above the creek.

I heard Charlie calling my name. I looked around as I called out, determining where every living thing was around me. I felt the rattlesnake’s presence before I saw them. I singled them out and waved my hands. Within minutes they were hissing in a circle around Hawke. Hawke was trying to back away, but he was backing into another snake. Charlie was screaming at Hawke to stand still. Charlie was yelling at me. “Emme, NO, stop it! Hurting him would only hurt me. Do you really want to hurt me?” My attention wavered from the snakes and I focused on Charlie. Instantly I was back in my body and looking at Charlie.

Charlie had me by the arm. “Stay here, Em, I’ll be right back.” Charlie waded into the water and ran to Hawke. The snakes were gone. Hawke was sitting in the dirt by the bank with his head in his hands. Hawke was visibly shaking as Charlie helped him up. I stood up and glared at Hawke. They waded back across the bank.

Charlie walked up to me. “Hawke is here to protect me and by protecting me, he is protecting you. Hawke has the skills to help you, to teach you what you need.” Charlie looked over at Hawke. “Emme is not the enemy. Do you finally see what she is? Do you see the gifts she has? She is our people’s last hope. She belongs with us.”

Hawke nodded and walked over to me. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a piece of cloth. He reached up and wiped the blood off of my neck. “I’m sorry,” he told me.

I grabbed his hands and held them between mine. “Me too.” Hawke turned on his heel and walked back the path to the main building.

Charlie looked at me. “What the hell did you just do?”

I looked back at him. “I finally figured out that Golden Flower gifted me with the ability to talk to and control animals.” I smiled questioningly at Charlie.

Charlie didn’t smile back. “What else have you done?” I told Charlie about Ollie and the church and the birds. Charlie paced around me. “This is not good. The machayiwiw will notice a display like the one you did in town. You must not ever do it again in a public place where others can see you. Do you understand me?” I nodded with my head down. Charlie leaned forward and grabbed my face between his warm hands. “I have to admit that it was an awesome thing to do for Ollie, but we have to be more careful.”

I laid my hands over his by my face. I leaned into this chest as he slowly lowered us to the ground. We laid on the ground facing each other. I stared into his eyes lost in his world. Charlie stared back at me and as the beautiful empty world and the warm wind eavesdropped on us, we talked. I told him about Bets, and Mom and Ben, and how hurt Ollie was at the church. I told him about Jack and the preserve and Rose and the baby. We talked laying down and facing each other with our fingers intertwined until the sun started its slow climb to the edge of darkness. The sky was an incredible shade of deep purple with shades of violet blue. Even in the beauty of the sunset, I felt the desperation creep over me. I started to shake. I didn’t want to leave Charlie. I never wanted to leave Charlie. Charlie leaned closer. I could feel his breath on my cheek. He laid his gentle brown hands on my cheeks. I closed my eyes. “Let me take the pain away,” he whispered. We stood up.

Charlie closed his eyes and he chanted in a low voice. I listened to his voice. I closed my eyes and leaned into Charlie. I laid my head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat. I felt the desperation leave me and I was filled with a sense of peace and serenity. My breathing slowed, and my mind was filled with the beautiful times that Charlie and I had shared. We were like one in my mind, our thoughts joined and our spirits connected. It was the most incredible intense feeling. It was what I imagined making love would be like. I felt dizzy and my body felt it was on fire from the inside out. My legs gave way and I dropped to my knees. Charlie grabbed me and slowly lowered me down to the ground. “What did you do?” I asked Charlie. He stared back at me. “I showed you our love. I showed you what is worth fighting and dying for.”

As Charlie stood up, he staggered. I reached out and held his arm. “Are you okay?” Charlie put his hand over mine that rested on his arm. “Just tired. You wear me out.” He grinned broadly as I swatted his arm. “Poor me,” I told him. We held hands as we headed back to the main buildings.

Ollie and Jack were standing outside of the meeting room talking to Ryan and Hawke. Ryan looked up as we approached. “Hey, Em, can you come back next week? I want to run in the hills with you, and Hawke needs to start working with you on knife and lance throwing.” “Sure thing,” I told him. Hawke looked at Charlie and then at me. Charlie was leaning on the car while he talked to Jack. Charlie’s face was pale. Hawke walked the short distance to me and whispered in my ear. “Every time Charlie carries your pain, he gets weaker. Every time you feel better in Charlie’s presence, he pays the price for it. Is that what you want for him?” I shook my head “No.” I looked at my feet as Hawke said, “Don’t come back here. Walk away. His burden is too big to carry.” I shook my head. “I’m sorry I can’t do that. I just can’t. I love him too much.” Hawke shook his head and walked away.

We all walked to the car. I held Charlie’s hand as long as I could. I climbed in the back seat and Jack and Ollie sat down in the Mustang. As we drove off, I turned around and stared back at Charlie. He stood there watching us drive off.

An Interview with Author D.E.L. Connor

What was your favorite book growing up?
When I was old enough to read it was the Little House on the Prairie series. I must have read and reread each of them a hundred times. I honestly thought I was Laura Ingalls Wilder. Most girls my age were into dolls and while I liked dolls and playing house, my version of playing house always had a log house and a covered wagon. They are still my favorite books to read to children. Can’t you just picture yourself on a hot summer day bouncing along in the back of the covered wagon?
Who is your favorite author (living or dead)?
I have more than one. Obviously I love Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I am also a huge fan of Larry McMurray. I grew up admiring strong women writers like Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee and more recently J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyers.
What inspired you to write the Spirit Warriors series?
Actually is has been a long time coming. I wrote the short story that the Spirt Warriors evolved from in college may years ago. The professor asked me to stay after class and he told me how good it was, but unfortunately, it was too dark to be a children’s story. I put it away and went on with my career as a nurse. Finally J.K Rowling and Stephenie Meyers came out with new dark tales and the young adult market was born. The time was finally right! I finished Book 1 in two weeks. The struggle to get it published took more time, but here I am with two books in the story completed.
What character do you most identify with in Spirit Warriors: The Scarring?
Probably Lilly, I tend to be kind to a fault, and love my friends and family unconditionally. I think as a child I wished I could have been more like Bets and Emme. They are headstrong, brave and willing to fight for anything or anyone they cared about. I was shy when I was young, although no one believes that today! LOL
Can you tell us about your next project?
Why of course. I am about half way through book 3 in the series The Burning. There will be 6 books total in the series. Book 4 will be The Lamenting, Book 5 The Ensouling and then a Prequel to be named later. In between those books or after them I’m not sure which, I plan to write a new adult romance novel about loss and finding the chance to love again.

The Concealing (Spirit Warriors #1)

by D.E.L. Connor

Release Date: November 24, 2013

Length: 191 pages

Publisher: Booktrope

 

Spirit Warriors - The Concealing webready

Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Emme Belrose has it all: four best friends, a horse of her own, a hidden tepee hangout, and a blossoming romance with tall and handsome Charlie. These friends also have a secret. They can move their spirits into animal bodies: an osprey, a mustang, a grizzly, a mountain lion and a coyote.

But when Charlie, who has a gift for seeing the future, has a vision of Emme drowning in the icy Yellowstone River, the Spirit Warriors must train their animal bodies to kill an enemy they know is coming… but know nothing about. Suspenseful, romantic, and awash in Native American magic, Spirit Warriors captures the tragic enchantment of the American West—and confirms the power of friendship.

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DEL ConnorAbout the Author

Della was born in South Dakota and raised in the vastness and beauty of Montana on a farm. When she longed for the big city life, she moved to Texas where she attended college and received a PhD in nursing. When not nursing people back to health you can find Della huddled over her Mac writing the stories that have occupied her mind for so many years, or traveling with her best friends, the NOLA’s, riding bikes across the Golden Gate bridge or exploring botanical gardens. She is the proud mother of a champion triathlete, two aging dogs and 1 grand-cat. Della has admittedly confessed to her coffee addiction and swears that her two hour coffee crawl while on vacation in Seattle –was the best two hours of her life!

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Current Impressions by Kelly Risser

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Title:  Current Impressions
Series:  Never Forgotten #2
Author:  Kelly Risser
Published:  July 18th, 2014 by Clean Teen Publishing
Word Count:  approx. 82,000
Genre:  NA Paranormal Romance
Recommended Age:  13+
Synopsis:
After an emotionally draining year, Meara Quinn is not the same carefree and innocent girl. Graduation is over. Taking a leap of faith and temporarily separating from her one love—Evan—Meara joins her father on a journey to learn more about who she is.
Too bad life is not all starfish and seashells. Meara gains magical abilities, but she’s forced to undergo intense training so she knows what to do with them. Her father chooses her aunt and Kieran as her trainers. And Kieran—a powerful male who’s not from their clan—has the unnerving ability to infuriate and intrigue Meara at the same time.
While Meara begins her new life, Evan endures with her memory and the knowledge that he will see her in July when his internship begins. Although excited about gaining real world experience, it’s the thought of seeing Meara that really drives him. Unfortunately, Evan finds it hard to focus on anything when he’s suffering from vivid nightmares and screaming headaches.
When Meara and Evan reunite, everything seems to fall back into place. The summer appears to be perfect. Then two of her father’s guards are found dead, and foul play is suspected. The façade melts away. Someone is targeting them, and Meara must discover who it is and why. She turns to Evan to help her, but when he gives her the hot and cold treatment, she’s left feeling alone and confused.
As the puzzle pieces move into place, will Meara be able to solve the mystery in time to save her clan and her relationship?
Current Impressions Excerpt  – Evan’s Dream
Bits of blue flashed in the corridor as she ran. The rest of her dress blended into the shadows. She’s fast, Evan thought and struggled to keep up with her.
“Meara, wait!”
She turned a corner. When he lost sight of her, the walls began to close in and pain pierced his brain. He clasped his head and ran. She was here. He would find her.
He turned the corner and once again caught the flash of blue ahead. He sped to catch up. She was quicker than he remembered. She ran with a strength and grace he never noticed. Still, he was faster, stronger. She glanced back over her shoulder as the distance closed between them. He reached out with a hand to grab her arm. His fingers grew into talons and cut angry, red strips into her flesh.
“Get away from me,” she screamed. She sunk to the floor and wrapped her arms protectively around herself. Thin, red trails coursed down her arm. With the realization that it was his fault, his veins frosted over. He did that. Hurt her. Hadn’t meant to. Hands. What happened to his hands?
He held them out. They shook, but they were only hands, not talons. Had he imagined the whole thing? No, or her arm would be fine.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“Just go away,” she cried. She hung her head, her hair falling in a riot of curls. It couldn’t hide the tears that shone on her cheeks or the fear in her eyes.
“Meara, it’s me.” He moved to crouch before her. She shot up and pressed herself against the wall, turning her face away from him.
“I said get away from me!” she screamed.
“Meara—”
Her scream cut through him, doubling the piercing pain in his head. What the hell was the matter with her? Why was she afraid of him?
 

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About the Author:
Kelly Risser knew at a young age what she wanted to be when she grew up. Unfortunately, Fairytale Princess was not a lucrative career. Leaving the castle and wand behind, she entered the world of creative business writing where she worked in advertising, marketing, and training at various companies.
She’s often found lamenting, “It’s hard to write when there’s so many good books to read!” So, when she’s not immersed in the middle of someone else’s fantasy world, she’s busy creating one of her own. This world is introduced in her first novel, Never Forgotten. Never Forgotten, a YA/NA Fantasy, will be released by Clean Teen Publishing in the Summer of 2014.
Kelly lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two children. They share their home with Clyde the Whoodle and a school of fish.
 
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Clean Teen Publishing Links:
Giveaway Details:
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Book Trailer for River of Bones

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Title:  River of Bones
Author:  Angela J. Townsend
Published:  October 30th, 2013 by Clean Teen Publishing
Word Count:  approx. 50,000
Genre:  YA Horror
Content Warning:  Light gore
Recommended Age:  12+
 
Synopsis:
When seventeen-year-old Dharma Moore moves to Bayou country so her scam artist mother can work as a Paranormal Investigator, she discovers that more than ghosts haunt the abandoned plantation they now call home.
Centuries ago, a voodoo curse was placed on the swamp waters surrounding the old plantation by a murdered slave. This terrible curse ensnares Dharma with its deadly effects. To save herself, she must face the terror of the haunted waters, find the dead woman’s skull, and convince the slave’s soul to release her from its torments. When Dharma discovers an ancient secret that links her to the property—a secret kept from her by her own family—she realizes that the curse is more personal to her than she ever imagined.
To survive, Dharma must accept the help of the locals, and put her trust in the handsome gardener, Wolf Bodine—who is the only one crazy enough to come near the plantation. With his help, Dharma must learn to embrace the truth and accept that magic is not only real… but that it can be very, very deadly!
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About the Author:
Angela Townsend was born in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Missoula, Montana. As a child, Angela grew up listening to stories told by her grandparents, ancient tales and legends of faraway places. Influenced by her Irish and Scottish heritage, Angela became an avid research historian, specializing in Celtic mythology. Her gift for storytelling finally led her to a full time career in historical research and writing. A writer in local community circulations, Angela is also a published genealogical and historical resource writer who has taught numerous research seminars. Currently, Angela divides her time between writing, playing Celtic music on her fiddle, and Irish dancing.
Angela’s first novel, Amarok, was published through Spencer Hill Press in 2012. Her newest novel, Angus MacBain and The Island of Sleeping Kings, was signed for publication with Clean Teen Publishing and released in September 2013. Her most recent young adult horror novel, River of Bones, is scheduled to release late October 2013.
Angela resides on a ranch, in rural Northwestern Montana, with her two children Levi and Grant.
Movie Poster:
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Clean Teen Publishing Links:
 
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Giveaway is International

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Excerpt and Giveaway for Connecting Strangers

Connecting Strangers

Discovering Emily Series Book 1

Rachel Carrington

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Genre: Romantic Suspense

Date of Publication: July 21, 2014

Word Count: ~67,000

Cover Artist: Elaina Lee of For the Muse Designs

Book Description: Connecting Strangers Large

Getting close is dangerous…

He’s too close, and I start to fidget, needing to keep my hands busy so they won’t grab hold of his shirt. Because that’s what they want to do. Draw him closer. So I can Inhale his scent. Taste his skin.

I didn’t run because I was in an abusive relationship; I ran because my soul was being crushed. I’d forgotten how to live, how to be happy. Running out of gas in a small town, I catch the eye of the local sheriff when the very last thing I want is to come under the scrutiny of the police. I left my boyfriend with blood on my hands, and I know as soon as the wound heals he’ll come looking for me.

Adam Madison draws me to him so easily I can’t even pretend to fight. And the closer we get, the more combustible we become.  I’ve never experienced such passion or power. My need is as great as his, but I’m sure he’ll walk away from me once he knows my secret. No other man would stay.

I’ve had enough complications in my life. I’m not looking for more, and that’s exactly what Adam is—a sexy, magnetic complication with secrets of his own. And with my ex on the hunt, I can’t risk bringing him down with me. But he won’t leave…even when vengeance could kill us both.

Excerpt:

I close my eyes and slowly squeeze the trigger. The shot sounds so loud I jump backwards. But the bullet hits its mark, tearing a hole through Mark’s shoulder. With a curse, he falls to the ground. I know I haven’t killed him because he’s making so much noise and trying to scramble to his feet. So I snag the keys from the hook by the back door and run.

He’ll come after me which means I don’t have much time to get a head start. The mud tries to suck my shoes off, but I clench my toes while Mark’s promise bounces around inside my head.

You’ll always be mine.

At the time, I thought it was romantic, but I was only eighteen. What the hell did I know? It didn’t take me long to learn it meant Mark doesn’t take no for an answer. In high school, his determination was a compliment. Nowadays, it would get him arrested…if we didn’t live in a town that worshipped him.

Shaking so hard, I have a hard time jabbing the key in the ignition. Relief floods through me when I can finally start the 2000 Volvo my grandmother got me when I graduated from high school seven years ago.

As I gun the engine, I see Mark’s reflection in my rearview mirror. He’s made it to his feet, and though blood is dripping down the front of his shirt, he’s running after me.

The Volvo kicks up plenty of dust and gravel when I stomp on the accelerator, showering Mark with enough pebbles to bring him to a halt. His loud curses follow me down the old, dirt road where our clapboard home sits. It’s the one his daddy built us once he knew Mark wouldn’t be leaving town anytime soon.

Staying in rural Broomtown, Kentucky definitely hadn’t been my choice. That had been all Mark. After my parents died, I wanted to get as far away as possible to start our lives fresh, but Mark, well, he figured since he was going to be trapped in a dead end job once his dreams of playing football were over, he might as well do it around family.

I keep looking in my mirror to make sure he isn’t following me, and I don’t dare relax until I make it to the highway. Even then, the trembling continues.

Ten miles down the road, I realize I left my purse on the kitchen counter, and I have no money and less than a half a tank of gas. In a car that chugs gas like this one, that isn’t going to get me very far. But anywhere is better than Broomtown with Mark.

A tear trickles down my cheek, and I swipe it away. No more tears. I have cried enough for him. When I was still young and foolish, I thought Mark and I would be together forever. I know now that forever can be a hell of a long time when the love of your life morphs into a raving lunatic.

My heart aches when I think about what we had once. We were the love story everyone dreams about. Me, the head cheerleader, and Mark, the captain of the football team. I still remember the night the Broomtown Broncs won the state championship. No one thought a team from the sticks could win such an important title. Mark had carried me on his shoulder through the cheers and the drums. Then he had to go and do something stupid for a senior prank that changed everything.

I switch on the radio to drown out the memories, but they’ve always been louder. The thump of the wheels hitting pavement releases some of the pressure in my chest, and my shoulders begin to relax. I might not be free of Mark forever, but tonight I wouldn’t have to listen to his drunken complaints.

The Volvo’s lone headlight illuminates the long, winding road ahead then bounces off the side of a white car heading in the opposite direction. I wish I could stop the person, warn them where there going. That road dead-ends in Broomtown. Hopefully, the driver doesn’t have plans to stay long. It’s the kind of place that sucks you in and while you’re there, it drains your soul a little piece at a time until you’re moving in slow motion. Just putting one foot in front of the other.

My hand smells like gun powder, and though I wipe them one at a time on my jeans, the smell won’t go away. I still see the blood, too, even though none of it got on me. There’d been a lot of it, though. If I hadn’t seen Mark get up and walk with my own two eyes, I would be worried I’d killed him.

As much as I want to get away from Mark, I couldn’t kill him. It’s certainly not that I love him anymore, but taking a human life just isn’t in me. Hell, taking any life. Mark and his best friend always made fun of me when I wanted to set the mice free from the traps rather than kill them. Mark had better be glad that’s the type of person I am.

Static replaces the low, monotonous voice of the town’s only radio broadcaster. I switch off the sound, and a flash of blue catches my eye in the rearview. I lift my gaze, and my stomach sinks. A cop is behind me, and the blue lights insist I pull over.

Damnit. With one hand, I direct the car over to the side of the road while I reach for my purse that isn’t on the passenger seat where I always drop it. Then I remember I left the house without anything but my clothes and keys. Double damn.

I hear the squawk of the cop’s radio as he approaches the side of my car. His long, black flashlight taps against the driver’s window, and I sigh, knowing the only way out of this is to tell the truth…well, some of it anyway.

Blinking rapidly against the glare of the light, I press the button to lower my window. My gaze tilts upwards and connects with hazel eyes. A sinfully handsome face causes my breath to stall in my chest. The man standing outside the window of my Volvo is a cop, and I should give him the proper respect, but finding my voice proves impossible.

The darkness doesn’t allow me much of a view, but it’s enough to make my nerves dance. I glance at his full lips and realize they’re moving. He’s talking to me, and I blink several times in an attempt to regroup. My hand fumbles on the seat next to me.

“I-I’m sorry, Officer. I left my purse at home. I do have a driver’s license and insurance, but I was in a hurry. I didn’t even think about it, honestly.” I babble on for a few more seconds until the cop interrupts in deep, throaty bass.

“Have you been drinking?” He shines the flashlight into the interior, and the beam slides over my denim-clad legs before sliding up my thin t-shirt.  I hadn’t had the time to grab a coat, and as cold as it is outside, it’s no wonder my outfit looks suspicious. His gaze pierces mine again while he waits for my answer.

I attempt to swallow, but the lump in my throat is the victor. “No, I haven’t.” But I don’t blame him for asking.

“Would you step out of the car, please?” He opens the door and takes a step back to give me room.

Trembling, I follow his command, closing the door behind me so I can lean against the coldness of the steel. A gust of frigid wind lifts the hair off the nape of my neck, and the trembles segue to shivers.

The officer drags his gaze back to the interior of my car before fixing it on me again. He’s staring at me, and I don’t like it. I’ve had just about enough of me treating me like I’m a piece of meat. Of course, now isn’t the time to get defensive. Instead, I return his stare, but I have to look up, way up, to face him. “Do you mind telling me why you stopped me?” I silently congratulate myself on the composed question.

He juts his chin toward the front of the Volvo. “You have a headlight out.”

If only he could see how relieved I am…Something as simple as a headlight, I can deal with. “Oh, that. Yes, I know. I’ve been meaning to fix it, but it just keeps slipping my mind. I’m sorry.” I lift my shoulders in an apologetic manner, but the stern look on the cop’s face remains.

“What’s your name?” The look on his face dares me to lie.

“Emily. Emily Murdoch.” I accept the challenge by using my mother’s maiden name which is also my middle name.

“Where do you live, Miss Murdoch?”

Shit. The last thing I want is for him to know my real name. Living in Broomtown has taught me that cops cannot be trusted. As gorgeous as this one is, I still won’t let my guard down. I paste an easygoing smile on my face and lie again. “Juniper Springs.”

His eyebrows lift, and my heart pounds. Did I say something wrong? Can he tell I’m lying now? “Really?”

I stick to my story, replying with only a stiff nod.

“You mind if I take a look inside your car?”

“Not at all.” I move away from the door and wave my hand as though granting entrance to my minions. What else am I supposed to do? If I said no, he’d have come up with a reason to arrest me. That’s what all cops do.

His concludes his search quickly and straightens to face me. “It’s too dangerous to be driving these dark roads with only one headlight, Miss Murdoch. I suggest you get it fixed first thing tomorrow morning.” He switches off the flashlight. “Drive safely.”

I watch him walk away while my legs threaten to collapse. Once back inside my car, I take in great gulps of air and lean my head back against the rest. But something tells me I shouldn’t be relieved. The cop bought my story too easily. Which probably means he didn’t just find me by accident.

A sick feeling settles in the pit of my stomach. Mark is already on the hunt.

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$15.00 Target gift card

E-copy of The Memory Child by Steena Holmes

Paris bath set from Bath and Body Works by Lisa Renee Jones

Winner’s choice of ebook from Mari Carr’s backlist

Prize pack of all of Violet Duke’s books (Nice Girl trilogy, Nice Guy spin-off, and Love, Chocolate and Beer)

$15 Amazon Gift Card and Hands on with the CEO by Cathryn Fox

www.cathrynfox.com

$25 Amazon Card and e-copy of Crazy Love by Melanie Shawn

www.melanieshawn.com

$15 gift card by Rachel Van Dyken

10 copies of Entice by Rachel Van Dyken

1 ecopy of Falling Into Forever by Elena Aitken

1 ebook of Winter’s Burn by Elena Aitken

$20 gift card to Starbucks by Elena Aitken

An audio book of Unexpected Gifts by Elena Aitken

2 signed ARCs of Linger which releases in September by Lauren Hawkeye

2 signed copies of Surrender to Temptation by Lauren Hawkeye

3 ebooks from C.J. Carmichael’s Fox & Fisher Detective Agency trilogy

Original print by a Charleston, SC artist

1 ebook of In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda

1 ebook of All the Difference by Kaira Rouda

1 ebook of Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda

Moonpie General Store Moonpies and Candle

E-copy of Cria by Suzanne Rock

Nina Lane’s trilogy and $10 Amazon card.

Nina Lane’s trilogy and $10 Amazon card

Print copy of Forever Wicked by Shayla Black

$10 iTunes Gift Card by Cari Quinn and a signed print copy of Seduced (US Only)

Ebook copy of Seduced by Cari Quinn for international winner

One Copy of Something True by Malia Mallory

One Copy of His Need, Her Desire by Malia Mallory

$10 Amazon gift certificate and an ebook copy of The Marriage Diaries by Erika Wilde

Giveaway link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112f698/

Giveaway contributing authors and their website and FB fan pages.

Melanie Shawn

www.melanieshawn.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/melanieshawnbooks

Cathryn Fox

www.cathrynfox.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCathrynFox

Steena Holmes

www.steenaholmes.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/SteenaHolmes.Author

Lisa Renee Jones

www.lisareneejones.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLisaReneeJones

Elena Aitken

http://elenaaitken.com

Facebook Fan Page: N/A

Follow Elena Aitken on Twitter: @elenaaitken

Rachel Van Dyken

http://rachelvandykenauthor.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/RachelVanDyken

Mari Carr

www.maricarr.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/MariCarrWriter

Violet Duke

www.violetduke.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/VioletDukeBooks

C.J. Carmichael

http://cjcarmichael.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorcjcarmichael

Lauren Hawkeye

www.laurenhawkeye.com

Facebook Fan Page: N/A

Follow Lauren Hawkeye on Twitter: @LaurenHJameson

Kaira Rouda

www.kairarouda.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/KairaRoudaBooks

Carly Phillips

www.carlyphillips.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/CarlyPhillipsFanPage

Nina Lane

www.ninalane.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/NinaLaneAuthor

Shayla Black

www.shaylablack.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/ShaylaBlackAuthor

Cari Quinn

www.cariquinn.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/CariQuinnAuthor

Malia Mallory

www.maliamallory.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/MaliaMallory

Erika Wilde

www.erikawilde.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/ErikaWildeAuthorFanPage

Suzanne Rock

www.suzannerock.com

Facebook Fan Page: N/A

Follow Suzanne Rock on Twitter: @Suzanne_Rock

About the Author: Rachel Carrington

I started writing years ago, and my first attempt was a contemporary romance that will never see the light of day. I think I may even have thrown it away by now. It was absolutely horrific as I knew nothing about well…anything to do with writing.

After that, I started writing fantasy romances about wizards and wizards, and once those took off, I segued to paranormal romances (hello, vampires and ghosts) and romantic suspense.

I also write articles for various magazines, including The Writer’s Journal, Writer’s Magazine, Writer’s Weekly, Writing for Dollars, Absolute Write, Freelance Writing.com, and Funds for Writers.

I’m fortunate to make my home in historical Charleston, South Carolina. Beautiful city. Beautiful people. When I’m not writing, I love to read, watch Bones, Castle, Blue Bloods, and Hawaii Five-O, create videos, keep Target in business, play visitor in my city, and drink lots of coffee.

My website: http://www.rachelcarrington.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rcarrington2004

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorrachelcarrington

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/rcarrington2004

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/rcarrington2004

Wattpad: http://wattpad.com/RachelCarrington